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POISE

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Poise. Poise. Poise.

Expect to hear that word ad nauseum in the run-up to Monday night’s game and well into the game regardless of how Christian Ponder fares.

If he is poised, they’ll talk about how poised he is. If he is not, they’ll be shocked because poise was supposed to be his big strength.

Yeah, there’s a lot of pressure: Rookie quarterback against a a long-standing rival who are also an undefeated reigning Super Bowl champions before a national audience on Monday night.

But I’m already sick of it.

I honestly don’t know how to take this game.

On the one hand, it could very well be a blowout with the way Aaron Rogers et. al. are playing against the weakness that is our secondary.

On the other hand, if Ponder can have some success against the Packers suspect pass defense, that could loosen things up for Adrian Peterson to have a big game, which we’ll need if we want to control the clock and have a chance at an upset.

On the one hand, the Packers have the 31st worst defense in the league against the pass (the Vikings are 30th, by the way); on the other hand, Ponder did throw two picks against them during the last matchup and the Pack had two pick-sixes against the Chargers last week.

I hate to be all about the quarterback all the time, but it is the most important position, so, you know, bear with me.

The most interesting thing that I’ll be watching this game is how Ponder fares after the Packers have gotten a full game’s look at him first hand.

Dom Capers is a damn fine defensive coordinator and thus will likely use the looks the Packers gave Ponder last time to disguise his defensive intent this time. Based on the defensive looks Ponder saw during their last matchup, he may very well be expecting one outcome while Capers, anticipating that, surprises the rookie with a different defensive execution out of a familiar look.

The degree to which Ponder can recognize what a defense who has already faced him is doing and adjust accordingly will give us further insight into just what we have in our young quarterback.

It’s the equivalent of the rookie pitching phenom who is unhittable during the first half of the year but then struggles the second go-round after batters have faced him and figured him out. Can he make the adjustments to continue to have success?

If Ponder can have some success in the passing game, Adrian should be able to have success running the ball and the combination is what we need to keep Aaron Rogers, Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley off the field.

On defense, about the best thing that can be said for the Vikings is that Antoine Winfield will return to his corner spot.

During the last matchup, the Vikings did a pretty good job of bottling up the Packers running game until it mattered the most in the fourth quarter when we needed to get the ball back to give the offense a chance to score.

Having the defenses’ best tackler on the field should help with that. And Antoine is a highly underrated pass defender as well, so we’ve got that going for us as well. Which is nice.

It will be interesting to see if Fred Pagac puts one defensive back on Greg Jennings all game, as he did last week with Asher Allen on Steve Smith. It wouldn’t surprise me, given the state of the Vikings defensive backfield and the imperative of denying Rogers his most explosive receiver. If Pagac does employ that tactic, who will be the cover guy? Allen again or Winfield?

It’s too bad fantasy football doesn’t let you take individual defensive players because Jared Allen would be a good bet this week. He’s been so much in the zone this year that he’s playing as well defensively as Aaron Rogers is playing offensively. Allen is certainly a strong MVP candidate and he should continue that run Monday against the Packers suspect left tackle, Marshall Newhouse.

I expect the Packers are too much for a Vikings upset but I wouldn’t be surprised to be surprised with a surprise Vikings victory.

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THE DEETS

The Vikings travel to Green Bay to play the Packers at Lambeau Field before a national prime time audience for Monday Night Football. Kickoff is at 7:30 PM CST and the game will be broadcast on ESPN nationally and KARE 11 TV locally.

Your play-by-play guy will be Mike Tirico and your analysts will be Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden, with Rachel Nichols serving as the sideline “reporter.”

The radio broadcast is on KFAN-AM 1130/KTLK 100.3-FM locally with your usual crew of play-by-play guy Paul Allen, analyst Pete Bercich and sideline reporter Greg Coleman. Pre-game show starts at 5 PM CST.

THE WEATHER

One of the story angles being taken by Minnesota media going into Monday night’s matchup is how Christian Ponder, a Texan who played college ball in Florida, will fare in an outdoor venue in November weather.

Even Ponder might be wondering the same. Star Tribune‘s Dan Wiederer points out that Ponder has taken to practicing outdoors in shorts and short sleeves.

But, please.

The forecast for Monday night in Green Bay is the high thirties with a 30% chance of rain. If you’re a Minnesotan, even one who’s grown soft from our skyway system, that’s warm. If you’re an athlete running around on a field, it’s downright toasty.

A NEW ADDITION TO MINNESOTA VIKINGS CHAT

I’d like to welcome a new addition to Minnesota Vikings Chat: Matthew Deery.

Matthew will be providing analysis for a blog of each week’s opponent, as we did yesterday with the Acme Packing Company’s analysis. We will, of course, provide a link to each of Matthew’s pieces. We will also be posting Matthew’s video breakdowns of Vikings action.

If you chat with us on Twitter using the #VikingsChat hashtag, you’ve probably already met Matt in the form of his Twitter handle: @MatthewDeery.

In addition to being a die-hard Vikings fan, he’s also the head writer and managing editor of The Movie Mash blog, so hit that up for all you movie needs and, I can testify, Matt has got him some game on the football field, too.

OPPOSITION RESEARCH

We got your back, as usual. All the links you’ll need to scout out this week’s Hated Opponent can be found at Minnesota Vikings Chat’s Green Bay Packers News page and you can also watch video highlights of the Packers’ 2011 season, including highlights from last week’s game against the Chargers.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Happy Birthday today to cornerback Cedric Griffin (29)!

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